Personal development at iCrossing – aiming to be a learning organisation

Jul. 09, 2014 | by Sharna Waid

There has been a lot of talk over the past few years about the digital skills gap in marketing.  Econsultancy released a report in May 2014 (skills of the modern marketer) about how marketers need to be more technically adept and data focused, but most importantly it reveals how traditional soft skills like empathy, collaboration and lateral thinking are as important as ever – if not more so.

In light of this, Rachel Collier, Chief Talent Officer at iCrossing discusses why personal development is such a vital ingredient of a digital marketing agency and how iCrossing has encouraged people to continuously learn and develop across both technical and soft skills…

Why is personal development important?

Maya Angelou, author, poet and civil rights activist, and personally, a long-time role model and inspiration for me, answers this question; “When you know better, you do better.”

Personal development is what you consciously do to grow as a person.  Being motivated to develop your skills in a way that embraces change without fear of failure is what Carol Dweck calls a ‘growth mindset.’ Not everyone is wired that way, but everyone wants to be valued – by their peers, communities and contexts. The ability to adapt and develop your skills is a valuable one to maintain throughout your career. 

We know from our own regular employee surveys and feedback that our people rate personal growth as fundamental to them achieving their career goals within the digital sector. Our investment in our team’s learning and development  has doubled over the past three years.

How have the training needs in digital changed over the years?

As the pace of technological change intensifies, the need to refresh and update the skills base of our people can only increase.

Traditionally, specialised training around technological advancements was the primary demand. We have always recognised that a broad range of skills are important to people’s ability to be and do their best. So called ‘soft’ skills, a misnomer for what can be complex skill sets, have always been considered and incorporated into people’s development planning. We have worked on establishing and embedding our values and behaviours alongside core competences such as self-motivation, interpersonal influence and team-work.  The combination of softer skills with professional and technical ability is central to how our learning and development programme has developed, helping our people be more effective and boosting individual performance irrespective of their role.

How does iCrossing encourage personal development?

A large majority of effective learning is done ‘on the job’ and our performance management framework helps everyone identify their development needs through regular 360 feedback and self-evaluation.   We invest in our managers to ensure that they have the skills and information available to support developing their own teams.

Successful personal development relies on a learning environment that engages interest and participation, stretches people and opens new horizons, provides opportunities for reflection, practice and progression. I’m not going to claim we have found the perfect solution for this. In reality, it’s constantly evolving.  What‘s fantastic about iCrossing is how it’s less about having to encourage people – more about finding the right solutions. Personal development is characterised by choice not compulsion.  That means we have plans for what is on offer, but we leave room to improvise.

What training opportunities does iCrossing offer?

We have a simple model that frames our different opportunities for learning and development. There are four categories of groups.  iJoin includes induction and orientation events and learning modules.  iProgress covers our ‘core competencies’ and softer skills.  iQualify is for development of technical and professional specialisms across digital services and support groups and iLead is our Leadership Development programme.  We have teamed with Development Squared this year to offer an exciting opportunity for one of our talented team to participate in the International Leadership Challenge this November.

Across this model, we adopt a broad mix of methods for learning and development; from structured on the job activities around each role with manager coaching, to providing resources such as conferences, seminars and tailored workshops, online resources and our popular lunch and learn programme.

We support individuals involved in community or charity projects through our membership of Skills Exchange or through Inspire! – an education charity working with schools in Hackney, London. Similarly we have an active Sports and Social Club that runs various team activities, included Sailing – where everyone who participated got their RSA Crew certificate.

sailing8MI

Photo credit: Mark Iremonger

The feedback we receive is overwhelmingly positive from our people. Which is even more reason for us to keep investing and developing the programme.  One recent bit of feedback stands out for me; a colleague said that the course they did was the most valuable they had ever been on and that they wanted to go back to improve even more…

We want people to grow and succeed, because:

‘Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it’ Maya Angelou

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    Comments (2)

    • Ner

      I rekcon you are quite dead on with that.Oct 7, 2014 04:35 am

    • Cristin

      I was seuriosly at DefCon 5 until I saw this post.Oct 1, 2014 04:56 pm

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    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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